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San Francisco Set to Name Street After Trans Icon

by Matthew S. Bajko
Wednesday Apr 23, 2014

San Francisco is set to name a street after a transgender icon, marking the first time the city has awarded such an honor to a member of the transgender community.

At its meeting Tuesday, April 22, the Board of Supervisors is expected to approve adding Vicki Marlane's name to street signs along the 100 block of Turk Street in the Tenderloin neighborhood. Marlane, who died in 2011 at the age of 76 due to AIDS-related complications, hosted a popular drag revue show at gay bar Aunt Charlie's located at 133 Turk.

The board's land use and economic development community unanimously approved the proposal at its meeting Monday, April 14. District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim, who represents the Tenderloin and is the main sponsor of the street-naming resolution, said this week she does not expect any opposition to the proposal when it reaches the full board.

"This is a historic vote and action," Kim said during the hearing before the committee on which she serves. "Vicki in particular was a mentor to many folks in this room, other performers, and transgender youth coming up in the scene. It is time to finally recognize this icon and activist. This block is the perfect place to memorialize her legacy."

Born Donald Sterger in Crookston, Minnesota, Marlane started out as a traveling circus performer before settling in San Francisco in 1966. She underwent sex reassignment surgery in the 1980s and moved to San Diego.

A decade later Marlane had returned to the city and her show "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" debuted in 1998 at Aunt Charlie's. It evolved into popular weekly Friday and Saturday shows called "The Hot Boxxx Girls."

Known as "the lady with the liquid spine" for her performance moves, Marlane was featured in the 2009 independent film Forever's Gonna Start Tonight.

In 2012 the B.A.R.'s Political Notebook suggested renaming the block of Turk between Jones and Taylor as Vicki Marlane Way. The Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club and friends of Marlane's formally announced a street-naming campaign in early 2013.

Wanting to avoid a confrontation with those with addresses on that block, backers of the proposal sought to have Marlane's name added in parenthesis below the word Turk. The city is expected to have such street signs in place to be unveiled at this year's Transgender March the evening of Friday, June 27.

"This will give the transgender community the respect, acknowledgement, and recognition the transgender community deserves," said Felicia A. Elizondo, a.k.a. Felicia Flames, who was a close friend of Marlane's.

Three San Francisco streets are already named for LGB people: Alice B. Toklas Place, Jose Sarria Court, and Jack Kerouac Alley. A proposal to rename an alley near City Hall as Dr. Tom Waddell Place, a gay doctor who launched the Gay Games, was to have been voted on at Monday's hearing.

But a communication snafu with the city's Department of Public Works caused it to be removed from the agenda. Kim, who is also the lead sponsor of the Waddell street-naming resolution, expects to now bring it before the board in a few months.

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